Wal-Mart Deepens Discounts on Prescription Drugs

May 5, 2008

Wal-Mart Expands Prescription Drug Program

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, today expanded its discount prescription drug program for consumers, by further slashing prices and adding new medications, including tamoxifen — used to treat breast cancer — to its discount drug offerings. A three-month supply of prescription drugs formerly available for $4.00 a month can now be purchased for $10.00. The price reduction affects about 350 generic medicines available at Neighborhood Market, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart stores. Additionally, several women’s medications were discounted, and the price of more than 1,000 over-the-counter (OTC) drugs — about one-third of Wal-Mart’s over-the-counter medications — was slashed to $4.00 or less, which is (temporarily) about 50 percent lower than the cost at other national drugstore and supermarket chains.

Tamoxifen for Breast Cancer Treatment

Notably, drugs used to treat breast cancer, hormone deficiencies and osteoporosis will be available for $9.00. Alendronate, the generic version of osteoporosis drug Fosamax, will be $9.00 for a month’s supply and $24.00 for a three-month supply. Previously, alendronate cost $54.00 for a 30-day supply and $102.00 for a three-month supply. Both tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer, and estrogen/methyltestosterone, used to treat menopausal symptoms and hormone deficiencies, will cost $9.00 a month. Included in the OTC price rollbacks are Wal-Mart’s “Equate” house brands of medications such as Claritin, Pepcid and Zantac. Their Spring Valley prenatal vitamins will also be priced at $4.00 or less, for a savings of up to $7.00.

Wal-Mart’s $4.00 generic drug program began in September 2006; the company says that consumers have saved over $1.2 billion in drug costs as a result. Many competitors have lowered their generic drug prices to remain competitive with Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart plans to launch a comprehensive marketing campaign for the new drug plan. In addition to print and TV ads, the company’s 300 district managers and 15,000 pharmacists will reach out to physicians.

Wal-Mart Vice President and COO, Bill Simon

Wal-Mart’s health and wellness business sales increased from 8 percent to 9 percent of total sales in the last fiscal year, due in part to the 2006 launch of the $4.00 generic prescription drug program. The company says it sees increased profitability with increased sales volumes. In a conference call, executive vice president and COO Bill Simon said: “It’s accretive and continues to be very positive for us. Total overall growth has been very strong. As our prescription volume goes up, we are able to buy better. The business results have exceeded our expectations. We expect that to be the case as well with the new introductions.” By 2010, the company plans to open about 400 in-store clinics as part of its continued initiatives to increase pharmacy sales. Currently, there are 70 in-store clinics in 12 states.

Read our thrifty tips about how to save even more money on prescription drugs.

Photo credit: New York Times

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